Types of Workplace Injuries

Dr. Purushothaman
December 5, 2013

Most people spend 40 hours a week or more where we work. Think about it: When you spend a third of your life in one place, you need it to be a safe environment. But we will never be 100 percent safe from injury.

No matter what kind of work you do, you may be susceptible to a workplace injury. Every year, more than four million Americans suffer a workplace injury or occupational illness. In 2008, the injury rate was approximately four personal injury cases per 100 full-time workers.

Here are some injuries that can occur at the workplace:

Head Injuries

There are many ways you can injure your head at work. If you work in a factory or at a warehouse, falling debris is a threat. Whether you work with heavy machinery or on a computer, a wet floor can cause a slip and fall injury to your head. Head injuries can lead to anything from a slight headache, to concussion, paralyses, or even death.

Neck Injuries

Have you ever experienced what some people refer to as a "crick in the neck"? This often happens when we stare at our computer screens for too long. It can be remedied by taking a break from the activity causing the pain, over-the-counter medications, and applying ice to the neck.

A more serious injury is a neck sprain. You may experience numbness that radiates to your arms and fingers. In this case, you should probably seek medical attention.

Back Injuries

Causes of workplace back injuries may be repetitive movements, bad posture, improper use of the back in work, moving objects, or even mental stress that can lead to tense and tight muscles. While not always preventable, learning proper lifting techniques, adjusting your posture, and considering a better diet and exercise routine can help you avoid back problems.

Arm and Hand Injuries

One of the more common work injuries is repetitive motion injuries. This can happen to office employees or someone working with heavy machinery. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, repetitive stress injuries account for 60 percent of all reported occupational illnesses. Simple everyday work such as typing, or scrubbing the floor can lead to this potentially debilitating injury.

The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendinitis and bursitis. Tendinitis is when connective muscle tissue is inflamed. Elbows, biceps, and shoulders are all commonly affected by tendinitis.

Bursitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the bursae, small pouches located around the body to cushion or lubricate the area between tendon and bone. This commonly happens in the elbows, knees, and hips.

Often, home treatments for these conditions will help, like rest, ice for reducing swelling, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In some cases, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, prescribed medications, or surgery.

Harmful Substance Exposure

Oftentimes workplace injuries are due to the neglect of your employer, including unknowingly being exposed to harmful substances. It could be dust, fumes, vapors, or any other airborne toxin that may be a threat. The only thing that you can do is educate yourself on safety.

Psychological Trauma

You don't have to be physically injured to incur harm at the workplace. Working in a mentally hostile environment is enough to create significant psychological trauma.

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